"Breakthrough" Ends its Run
The Christian film had a lot going for it and leveraged it all into a strong showing at the box office.
After 11 weeks, Breakthrough wraps up its theatrical run with $50.4 million in combined domestic and foreign revenue, according to Box Office Mojo. That comes against a production budget of $14 million, making this a bona fide commercial success. And with digital/DVD sales, streaming deals and international TV rights still to come, there is more money yet to be made.
The domestic performance also puts this picture high up the list of all-time earners in the Christian genre. Breakthrough did $40.7 million in America, good enough for 14th place in the faith-based arena.
So, what made it such a success? The elements are myriad, but start with the story. In this case, a miraculous true one about a Missouri teen who was brought back to life through the power of prayer after he drowned in an icy lake. The screenplay from Grant Nierporte was well executed and director Roxann Dawson got good performances out of her top-notch cast, which included Chrissy Metz, Topher Grace, Josh Lucas, Dennis Haysbert, Mike Colter and Marcel Ruiz. The soundtrack was a powerful compliment as well, thanks to Grammy winners like country music star Carrie Underwood, Christian Rapper Lecrae and urban gospel giant Kirk Franklin.
Christian movie executive DeVon Franklin, no relation to Kirk, brought his talents to bear as producer and star basketball player Stephen Curry lent his name to the project in an executive producer role. When you add one of the big Hollywood studios - Twentieth Century Fox - to the mix, you've got a recipe for near-guaranteed success.
Could it have done better? For a bit of perspective, it's worth taking a look at a similar film from a few years ago. In an article several months back, Christian Film Blog pointed to 2016's Miracles from Heaven as a good comparison. Also based on a miraculous true story, it had big studio backing - Columbia Pictures, Hollywood stars - Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, and the very same producer - DeVon Franklin. The budget was a bit lower - $13 million versus $14 - but that's not much of a difference.
For whatever reason, Miracles from Heaven performed significantly better. It brought in $73.8 million in worldwide revenue, $61.7 million of which came in America...51% more than Breakthrough. That domestic revenue puts Miracles from Heaven at number eight all-time in box office revenue for the Christan genre, six spots ahead of Breakthrough.
The reason it worked out that way strikes us as unknowable. But the disparity in outcomes in no way diminshes from what Breakthrough accomplished. It is a strong production and did well financially. DeVon Franklin and the rest of the team should be proud of their effort, which most definitely continues a trend of raising the bar in faith-based filmmaking.